Book Review – “From Hectic To Healthy” by Craig and Mary Jutila

Hectic to healthy

About a month ago I received a complimentary autographed copy of Craig and Mary’s book.  I was excited to dive into it because I had already read the first chapter via a free download on their site.  Let me just say, this book is a life-changer.

Like many of you, I have been blessed by Craig’s ministry for the last decade or so via his position as Kids Pastor at Saddleback to his incredible leadership materials and teaching resources at Empowering Kids.  I was saddened when I heard several years ago that Craig was having a difficult time, but was unaware of any of the details as to what he was going through.  This book chronicles much of the journey Craig and his wife, Mary, went on during that time period – as well as lessons learned from the journey.

In the book, Craig and Mary discuss how their lives had spun out of control due to driven, workaholic personalities and a desire to change the world for God.  Through it all, their marriage suffered, their family suffered, and their personal connection to God suffered.  They found themselves in a cycle they refer to in the book: SPIN.  In classic Craig fashion, this is an acronym that stands for Seasons, Priorities, Isolation, Neglect.

Without giving away too much of the content of the book, let me say that it was refreshingly candid and inspiring.  It is far from a “tell all” memoir.  Craig points no fingers of blame to others – instead, he takes full responsibility for the damage he brought to his family.  “H2H” is a glimpse into the hearts of an incredible couple who got swept away in the demands of public ministry.  Craig and Mary never take a “know it all” approach, instead they confess to being fellow strugglers who are continuing to learn and grow.

If you are someone who finds yourself living dangerously out of balance due to the constant busyness of ministry, this book is for you.  In fact, it is a book for ALL of us who labor in the fields of ministry – as a guide to maintain a healthy balance between ministry demands and family priorities.  It will challenge you, inspire you, and refresh you.

For more info and to order your copy of “From Hectic To Healthy:  The Journey To A Balanced Life”, click HERE.

“The Eric Trap” Book Review

Eric Trap

I am very pleased to be able to talk about The Eric Trap, a new book written by Jim Wideman, Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, and several others.  I received a copy a week or so ago and immediately began diving into it.  I have to say, I was blown away by it.

Here are the things I LOVED about The Eric Trap:

1)  It is written as a leadership fable. If you are not familiar with this style of writing (a la Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, and others), it is told as a fictional story of Eric Newman.  Eric is a regular guy who finds himself reeling from the demands and expectations of Kids Ministry.  It’s easy to read.  You learn as Eric learns.

2)  The main character is easy to relate to.  Eric is you.  Eric is me.  Eric is the Kidmin Leader we all have been at some point in our journey.  I felt a connection to Eric within the first couple of paragraphs.  I found myself truly caring about Eric and the pain he was going through.  That is what good writing does.  This book is well-written and compelling.

3)  The lessons are impacting.  The book deals with “five things every leader has to get right.”  Each of these lessons are learned by Eric along the way.  From learning how to balance ministry and family to serving under a Lead Pastor and carrying his/her vision, these lessons ARE things that every Kidmin Leader must get right if they want to accomplish God’s best in their ministry.

The only thing I wish was different with the book is that it is not COMPLETELY a leadership fable.  Periodically, the story of Eric is broken up with select lessons from successful Kidmin Leaders.  Don’t get me wrong – these lessons are phenomenally written and are very helpful.  I just wish the content could have been worked more into the story rather than having to continually pop out of the story in order to do practical teaching.

Bottom line – The Eric Trap is a well-written book that will appeal to much more than just Kidmin Leaders.  It serves as a guidebook for every new staff pastor getting into ministry.  Male or female.  Long-term or short-term.  Kids Ministry or Student Ministry.  Everyone can learn from Eric Newman and help themselves NEVER to fall into the “Eric Traps.”

* The official release date of the book is APRIL 25th.  For more info check out the official website.

Book Review: “Jumping The Track” by Roger Fields

jumping the track

When I first began seeing Roger tweet about the book he was writing, he was billing it as “The Kidz Blitz Story.”  That is a major understatement!  While this book does chronicle the story of how the Kidmin phenomenon KIDZ BLITZ got started, it is so much more than that!

“Jumping The Track” is Roger’s story.  It’s the story of a man who refused to follow the mold set by others in ministry.  It’s the story of a man’s struggle with his own overwhelmingly shy personality to become a mesmerizing stage host and people-person.  It’s the story of a man who broke through tradition into a dynamic faith experience.  It’s all that and much more!

Roger is a gifted storyteller.  After reading the book, I feel like I was right there with him, Tammie, Terra, Shannon, Mica, and Morgan for the whole journey.  I literally laughed out loud as Roger shared some of his early ministry mistakes.  I was truly challenged as I read about his leaps of faith to start Kidz Blitz.

“Jumping The Track” refers to being willing to abruptly change directions in life at the Lord’s command.  Rather than follow a pre-set strategy and list of long-term goals, Roger suggests that each of us should “hold on loosely” to the trajectory of our lives and be open to the voice of God.  He may call each of us to “Jump The Track.”  If so, will we be so tightly clinging to our long-term goals and human vision that we miss out on His plan?

I encourage each of you to purchase this book.  It will challenge you to think differently about life, ministry, and faith – in a good way!